Has the Video Game Industry Embraced Diversity and Inclusion?

Over the past few years, companies throughout the tech industry have devoted more resources to promoting workforce diversity and inclusion. Have game studios put the same focus on a more diverse and inclusive workplace?

The latest edition of GDC’s State of the Game Industry report offers some good news on that front, with a majority of developers reporting their studios enjoying at least some success in the diversity and inclusion realm:

Some studios have launched a variety of programs, according to respondents. “We are focusing on our recruitment, specifically writing our job posts to highlight what we’re able to offer which will attract candidates who have diverse backgrounds,” one told the GDC survey-takers. “We’ve gone fully remote since the pandemic. We’re working with charities who will enable us to reach candidates of diverse ethnic heritages.” 

But not every company has embraced diversity in the same way. “We’re trying to hire more diverse people, but the vast majority of applicants are white, male, or both. We’re not doing the kind of effortful outreach that is needed to really diversify our group,” another respondent wrote. 

Many studios also aren’t participating in activism or social-justice activities:

Some studios have observed calendar events related to social justice, such as LGBTQ pride month; others have given employees days off to vote and volunteer. But for many game developers and designers who want their employers to do more on this front, it’s a long road ahead. 

“The studio paid minor lip service to the BLM movement due to employees insisting and staking a claim. The end result is that the company is now unlikely to ever promote any social justice movements in the future due entirely to the discomfort the studio head had with doing even the most minimal, effortless work,” one respondent wrote.

The video-game industry has faced some controversy over discrimination in recent months. In December, for example, Riot Games announced it would pay $100 million to settle a gender-based discrimination class-action suit. Before it was acquired in a blockbuster deal by Microsoft, Activision Blizzard was under the microscope for allegations of discriminatory hiring practices and an abusive culture. Instituting training, development, mentorship, and recruiting programs can potentially help curb these issues—but it can take years for the full impact to be felt.